Criminal assets stolen in Nigeria and seized in the UK are to be returned to the West African country through a new agreement signed this week. The deal was signed by Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill and Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed as part of a 2 day visit to the African country by the Immigration Minister this week, Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 August. It reinforces the 2 countries’ commitments to continuing cooperation and mutual support in returning the seized proceeds of bribery or corruption in a responsible and transparent way.
Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: This government is committed to attacking criminal finances, making it harder to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime. Between April 2010 and March 2016, we seized a total of £1.2 billion from criminals, with more assets recovered in 2015 to 2016 than ever before.
Crime of this sort is not confined to our own borders and it is therefore essential that we work with international partners to tackle it. This agreement spells out how the UK and Nigeria will ensure that criminal finances that have been misappropriated from Nigeria will be returned for the benefit of the Nigerian people.
The Memorandum of Understanding makes clear that both countries are committed to ensuring that returned money should not be allowed to get back into the hands of criminals. As part of the agreement, the Nigerian government has also pledged to use any returned funds for projects that will benefit the poorest members of society and improve access to justice for all Nigerians.
The UK has been a driving force in bringing countries together to tackle serious and organised crime. Earlier this year, it created the Global Forum for Asset Recovery which will bring together governments – including Nigeria – and law enforcement agencies to work to recover stolen assets. Domestically, as outlined in this year’s Queen’s speech, a Criminal Finance Bill will be introduced to Parliament which will allow the government to recoup more criminal assets by reforming the law on proceeds of crime.